Websites – Which is best for you, and why?

Easy Web Builder (Wix, Square Space, Shopify) or hire Web Designers? What’s best for you.

Choosing the best avenue to build your website is not straightforward. Your choice depends on your business lifecycle and the nature of your industry.
You should use Web builders if you are a:

1) Start-up or  young business


Credit: iStock

For most start-ups and young companies, you face two main problems.

Some of the key challenges have to do with:
1) An unproven business model
2) Cash flow

Objective: A decent website to tell people who you are and what you do.

When you are an upstart, you are still unsure about your business.
Since you are unsure if you can recuperate your investment in your business, don’t spend $5,000 hiring a web developer!

Your cash is better used for making the right hires, stocking up on inventory and other crucial operational expenditures. Ideally, you want to minimize your cost and always seek more cost-effective alternatives. If a cheaper alternative exists without compromising on your objectives, use it.
We do not want to waste resources.

Easy web building tool like Wix, Shopify or Squarespace have beautiful website templates to fit multiple industries. It is perfectly capable of fulfilling your objectives as a new business – stating who you are and what you do.

Moral of the story – if you are unsure about a new venture, don’t spend thousands of dollars on your website.

2) Hobby business / Freelancers

Credits: iStock
If you are new to freelancing or working on your hobby business, you don’t need to engage a web design company.

Objective: To showcase your portfolio, product

Of course, the user experience of your website matters – it has to create the right ‘feel’ for your audience. However, the crucial element is your Portfolio, not your site.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. They want to know what you have done and your capabilities. The only way for them to evaluate your standard of service is through your previous works. While the templates online can be quite generic at times, it is your portfolio and blog content that matters. Until you generate more than $100K annually, easy web builders serve its function.  

It has a vast variety of different styles for you to achieve a design which resonates with you – at an affordable price.  

When you have a strong following or taking on larger projects (>$20K per deal), then you should consider hiring a web designer. They (assuming you hired a credible web designer) can give you professional advice on how to scale your business through your website by creating a more client-centric website.

3) Non-profit

Your business nature is a non-profit organisation.

1) Increase awareness of your cause
2) Get funds via donations to help with your cause.

The choice of building your site depends on the scale of your non-profit.

As a small non-profit, most of your funds should be channeled directly to help those in need. For this reason, it is perfectly fine to build your website with easy web builders.
When your non-profit is influential, with a large social following or the backing from organisations, then it is time to engage a web designer.

4) F&B business

Credits: iStock

Think about your customer journey in finding a restaurant. You will realise that you rarely find restaurants and retail stores through their websites. You find them on Yelp, Blogs reviews, Entertainer, Hungrygowhere, Eatigo, Chope or your google searches.

The top query –
Top 10 Japanese Restaurants in Singapore
Locational query –
Best Hawker foods in Lavender.

If you want to increase the visibility of your business, your presence on blogs, social media, and other 3rd party applications are more important than your website.

Think about all the top cafes – Nylon Coffee, Forty Hands, Chye Seng Huat, and Stamping grounds.  We don’t discover them through their websites.  For most F&B restaurants, using a web builder to design your site would suffice.

So when does an F&B owner engage a web designer?

When you are serving an experience – A chic & majestic cocktail bar,  the Snazzy Jazzy Speakeasy, or the fine-dining restaurant with sophistication.
In this case, a $5,000 to $10,000 website is not just justified; it is a necessity.  People are prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on a unique experience. They will do their research before they make a booking.
Therefore, you want to foretell your experience to your potential patrons in the best way possible. The best representation is through your website.

Make no mistake about it; you can still achieve a well-designed website through the use of a web builder. You will need an eye for design, professional photographs taken (Food & interior design) & professional Copywriting. It is much easier to engage professional help.

If your value proposition is an experience, your website is your best tool to foreshow that experience. It is likely that you have spent north of $300K to set up your establishment. So, don’t save on your website – get professional assistance to represent your establishment the best way possible online.

When should you hire a Web Design firm?

Ultimately, we all want to make sound financial decisions for our business.
We want our investments to have payoffs or break even at the very least.

A website is no different.
It is a form of capital investment, and we want a good Return on Invested Capital.

There is a lot of information on stocks, bonds, forex trading, and other business investment.
But what are the main factors you should consider before hiring a web designer?

1) Your business is generating stable revenue of over $200K a year.

This figure varies because profit margins differ between businesses. But, if you have been generating more than $200K in revenue over a few years, then you should consider getting a professional website done.

It implies that you have a running business and a professional looking website might be the catalyst you need to scale your business.

2) You are experiencing slow revenue growth

Are you facing sluggish revenue growth? Have your sales been stagnating?  Perhaps you have already maximised your offline sales channels. Referrals, word-of-mouth and walk-ins are crucial to your business success, but there is no harm in adding online sales.

Creating a functional website might be what you need to break the rut. A web developer has the expertise to create a website primed for increasing your online visibility and sales (Good web developer create sites with SEO optimisation).

The outstanding web developers will design a website after carefully studying your customer purchasing process. They then maximise your website real estate for sales conversions.
For example, what to display on your homepage and crafting call-to-actions and placing them in the right areas of your site.  

3) High-Value services

Selling high-value services with high transactional value is an excellent reason to hire a web developer. When your services cost more than $2,500, you can easily make back your investment on your website.

Typical examples are law firms, clinics, marketers, tuition, consulting and accounting firms.
A well-customised website may better represent your company and help you stand out from your competitors.

As a lawyer, if you charge $3,000 for each divorce case, you would only require one to two sale to break even.

4) You want customisation and specific functionalities for your website

One Advantage of engaging web developers is that you can tailor your site to fit your needs.
Most functionalities you need do exist on Shopify or Wix – It just requires a higher monthly subscription fee (Depending on the functionality you require).

If you engage a web developer, it is likely they will be using WordPress or Magento. These platforms are open source, meaning they are highly customisable.

Think of it this way; if you use web builders like Wix and Shopify, it is like using an iPhone. It is user-friendly, sleek and simple. WordPress and Magento are like Android  – it is way more customisable.

Check out Shopify, Wix or Square Space first, if none matches your requirements, hire a web designer.

Another potential feature you might want is to automate the flow of information from your website to your own CRM/ERP/POS system. For instance, you have an online appointment system, and you want it to reflect on your POS systems in your retail stores. This automation can significantly enhance your operational efficiency.

5) You are trying to rebrand your company


Rebranding is not easy to execute. It ranges from significant changes like redesigning your store, conceptualisation of your products and packaging to name cards and letterheads.

Chances are, more people will view your website before meeting you or buying your products/services. Therefore, it is paramount that your site remains consistent with your branding exercise.  

In such cases, you should be looking for a Creative Agency – because they will help you conceptualise a brand from the ground up. By engaging one firm to create your videos, website, brochure, packaging, letterheads, promotional materials and so on, your company remains coherent in reflecting your brand.

6) Top web designers create websites based on your customer’s purchasing journey.

They analyse your Customer experience and journey on your website. In reality, the site with the most beautiful design might not translate into sales.

One such example is a minimalistic homepage design – You like it because it is sleek, modern and contemporary. However, that might be a good design with bad functionality.

Let me explain –
Suppose you are running a logistical service business. Your clean and minimalistic design might make it extremely hard for your potential customer to understand what exactly you are selling.

Secondly, not all customers come to your page with the intention to buy.
They might be comparing your rates and prices with your competitor.

Your customer often opens multiple tabs to compare prices before they come to a decision.

It is known that our attention span is getting shorter. If your website does not provide an immediate sense of what you are selling or your price point, people might not have the patience to navigate your website to get the information they want.  

The best advantage of hiring a web designer is that they study your customer journey, from considerations to the purchase. Good web designers apply the form following function principle – to create a website that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional in sales conversion.

For more information on how to create a useful website click here.

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